DIY: Homeschooling

February 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the February 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Do It Yourself

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants are teaching us how to make something useful or try something new.


Often when I meet parents at the park or around the city and they learn that we are homeschoolers, a common response is: “Oh, I could never do that!” To which I respond, “Of course you could! Why not?”

What follows is usually a litany of reasons including, “I don’t have the patience,” or “I need my breaks,” or “I want my kids to learn from others,” or “I wouldn’t know what to teach,” or “I can’t give them everything they need to learn,” or “We both have to work.”

Homeschooling may not be the right path for every family for a panoply of reasons, but just as parents spend a lot of time contemplating and researching the public and private school options available to them, homeschooling should be another reasonable education choice for families to consider.

There are two hurdles, I think, that parents need to get past to truly understand and fully consider the homeschooling option: the personal and the practical.

On the personal side, I find parents don’t give themselves enough credit. They are often too hard on themselves. Parents don’t need to be superstars, with limitless patience, boundless energy, and masterful creativity to help their children learn. They have been continuously engaged in the important process of teaching and learning with their children, and homeschooling becomes an extension of this natural learning process. Homeschooling provides time and space for children to explore and uncover their own interests and talents. It strengthens family and sibling bonds, positioning family at the center of a child’s life and learning, while also encouraging children to become vital members of their community through civic activities, community classes and local events. Homeschooling helps to slow down the increasingly frenetic pace of American childhood, helping families to simplify schedules and foster an environment of natural family learning.

On the practical side, there are many resources now available to homeschoolers that help to craft a homeschooling approach that is right for each family. Many homeschoolers purchase level-specific curriculum packages to provide structure to learning. Homeschoolers may hire tutors, participate in community classes or lessons, take advantage of online learning programs, use community college courses and a host of other learning resources to define or augment their homeschooling approach. Some homeschoolers use an “eclectic” approach to learning, perhaps using structured curriculum for certain learning areas but not for others. An increasingly growing number of homeschoolers, ourselves included, are “unschoolers,” or those who don’t follow any prescribed curriculum but instead follow our children’s lead when deciding when and what to learn.

Given the wide variety of homeschooling approaches, it is not surprising that all kinds of families find ways to make homeschooling work, including families with single parents and those with two working parents. Creative scheduling, community classes, formal or informal homeschooling co-ops, community resource centers, and help from others can make homeschooling accessible to many families who wish to choose this educational option.

So, of course you can homeschool!

In the end, homeschooling may not be right for every family, but for families who are interested in exploring this educational option, along with private and public school offerings, there are many personal and practical ways to make homeschooling work for any family that wants to give it a try.


Kerry McDonaldKerry McDonald, M.Ed., lives and learns in Cambridge, Mass., with her husband and four never-been-schooled children. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College and a Master’s degree in Education Policy from Harvard University, and has spent nearly two decades deeply involved in education policy and practice. Kerry blogs about natural learning, natural parenting, and natural living at City Kids Homeschooling. She can be reached at


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon February 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • DIY: Homeschooling — Have you considered homeschooling but aren’t sure how you could make it work? Kerry of City Kids Homeschooling offers some do-it-yourself encouragement in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Super Easy Berry Freezie — Tracy at Raised Good shows how to make healthy, delicious, dairy-free ice-cream for toddlers and their families in under 10 minutes.
  • How to Get Kids to Behave in Church — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains how she’s been able to participate in religious activities that mean a lot to her, without being separated from her kids.
  • Valentine’s Slippers — A sneak peek at Life Breath Present‘s crochet process with some slippers for Hun for Valentine’s Day this year!
  • DIY Nursing Bra Conversion — Holly at Leaves of Lavender provides a quick tutorial for how to convert your favorite regular bra to a nursing bra.
  • Make your own soothing postpartum pads — Lauren at Hobo Mama shows you how to freeze padsicles for perineal comfort after birth, plus bonus healing options.
  • Beginning Knitting Project for Kids: Knit a Pikachu — What do you do with all of those practice squares you knit when you are a beginner? Turn them into Pokemon! Kieran, 7-year-old son of Dionna at Code Name: Mama, brings us a video tutorial for this awesome knitting project for kids and adults.
  • Name Creations: An Inspiring Project that Builds Self-Esteem — Children love their names. Learn easy instructions for children, tweens and teens to put a dramatic name on their door or room wall from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., at Parental Intelligence.
  • Water-Bead Sensory Bottles for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a tutorial for making a rainbow of water-bead sensory bottles along with ideas for using them with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Photo Credits


7 Responses to DIY: Homeschooling

  1. Lauren Wayne  

    This is great! We’re unschooling here, and we get a lot of comments about what people think homeschooling looks like and therefore how many barriers there are (setting up a school room, having a ton of discipline, etc.), and I don’t think they believe me when I tell them it’s actually pretty natural & easy! 🙂

    We’ve gotten the same sort of disbelief/envy when we say we work from home — I know other people can do it if they want to and are motivated, though I can totally understand why people might not choose to. Sometimes, though, I think people don’t really ask themselves what’s holding them back.

  2. Life Breath Present  

    I think you make such excellent points here about homeschooling. I know Hun and I decided that we wanted to homeschool our children. Now that I stay home with Baby Boy and I’ve done a little bit of ‘research’ on homeschool, I’m definitely drawn to unschooling. And this post actually reminds me that through what we are/not doing, Baby Boy has learned so much. He’s not quite 2 and yet he has great language for his age, great gross and fine motor skills (even turning a screwdriver properly on his own, just the other day), is learning letters/numbers/colors. We take opportunities and just do! It’s amazing to see him grow and learn like this, but it also reminds me that I maybe ‘should’ do more research on homeschooling stuff lol 🙂

  3. Heather Kelly  

    I so wish that my husband believed this way. I am going to have to do some more talking with my inlaws and get my father in law to talk to my husband, his son, about how awesome it would be to homeschool our children. It’s awesome that I have the support of my parents and his. But it would be even better if my husband was led to believe that testing kids every 3 to 4 months to see what they know and what they have learned, isn’t the answer. Thank you for this. I shared it all over social media, and I am saving it for my husband to read when he jumps on board!

  4. Holly S

    My son just turned 3, and I have been interested in homeschooling him from the start. I know I personally didn’t get much out of my public school education; when I think back to it, I realize how much time I spent learning facts in order to do well on tests, and then promptly forgetting those same facts to make room for the next subject. I did well in school, but I didn’t really learn that much in the long term. I want my son to get more out of school than that, and I want him to retain the love of learning that I already see blooming in him. Plus, as a military family, I feel that homeschooling just makes so much more sense; no worrying about him being behind or ahead when starting in a new school. Unschooling really appeals to me too, although it’s admittedly very hard to get away from that traditional school mindset. I think we’ll end up doing more traditional curriculum-based schooling in the early years (especially with learning to read, basic math, etc.), and as he gets older we’ll be able to let him follow his own interests more and more.

  5. Dionna  

    We love homeschooling. Love, love, love it! (Except on days like today when my 3yo will not get off of me, I wouldn’t mind a break for preschool or something. Ahem.)
    One of our favorite homeschooling activities right now is participating in our local co-ops. We have one co-op that is weekly, semester-long classes, another that is weekly, year long classes for history/science (summers off), and a third that has one-time classes on lots of different subjects, all over the city. Almost as important as trying on new subjects is hanging out with other awesome homeschoolers 🙂

  6. Tracy Gillett

    Awesome and inspirational post Kerry. I have a nearly 2 year old son and recently started reading all about unschooling and homeschooling – it makes so much sense. Your post inspires me that it is possible – all of my friends and family’s children go to school so I am not sure what kind of support we will have when we come out of the closet in a few years that our son may to be going to school! It is great to read other people’s first hand accounts. Thank you for the post! 🙂

  7. Lec

    This is a great starting point for those thinking of homeschooling. Thanks.